No comments yet
19 December, 2011

The sudden death at the age of 83 of an Edinburgh man, who served in the war with the Polish Corps in Italy, has brought an outpouring of messages from Polish friends. They speak with grief and gratitude of his contribution to their country’s democratic faith and unity.

Rex Dilly
Rex Dilly
Rex Dilly counted an Edinburgh senior baillie [city government officer] in his family records, and was educated at John Watson’s School. He worked with the Glasgow soap-making firm of Ogston and Tenant until the outbreak of the Second World War, and served throughout the hostilities in the 26th Medium Regiment, Royal Artillary.

From 1939 to 1943 their guns defended Malta, before crossing the Mediterranean for the Italian campaign. Later he wrote the official record of his unit’s service with the Polish Corps.

At a meeting in London, Dilly said: 'We had a great administration for the fighting qualities of the Poles as we slogged up Italy together. Our colonel was awarded the Virtute Militari and two officers the Cross of Valour by General Anders.' Dilly himself was mentioned in dispatches—a fact he rarely spoke about.

His regiment was given the honour of wearing the Polish Corps badge, and all ranks wore this on their British uniforms throughout the rest of the war. Their advance across the River Po was called 'the impossible victory'. Churchill said it was 'the work of as gallant an army as ever marched'.

After the war, Rex Dilly became a journalist, author and lecturer. He worked in many countries with the world-wide movement for Moral Re-Armament, including 26 years in India. [This included being a staff member of Rajmohan Gandhi’s newsweekly paper Himmat, in Bombay.]

Rex Dilly in Krakow 1987. Rex had served in the Polish artillery during WW2 and pioneered MRA contacts with Poland from the early 80s onwards. (Photo: Mike Lowe)
Rex Dilly in Krakow 1987. Rex had served in the Polish artillery during WW2 and pioneered MRA contacts with Poland from the early 80s onwards. (Photo: Mike Lowe)
In 1979 he renewed his links with Poland, and soon after began a series of 20 visits to the country, developing a wide network of friendships. The conviction which he often expressed was that 'something very real and precious seems to have been forged from Poland’s crucible of oppression. I could not help reflecting that perhaps she was being prepared to give something distinctive to the world. She has certainly lit the light of freedom for the whole of Eastern Europe.'

He was the chief liaison officer in facilitating the participation of many Poles from all walks of life in the international conferences for Moral Re-Armament at Caux, Switzerland. And he was working to bring Polish representatives from academic circles, the media, and the rising generation to the coming Caux conference this year when he died.

In his work, he found himself often answering the question: 'What is Moral Re-Armament? What has it achieved?' In response he wrote a book, Discovering Moral Re-Armament (1995). To his delight, this book has been picked up on the Internet and Dilly’s answers to these questions can be read by a worldwide audience.

First published in The Scotsman, 21 June 1997.

Related Posts